It seems like the Freedom Challenge is made for racers aged around late-30s early-40s, often after they have built up some serious credentials elsewhere. Also starting in Batch J with Glenn, at age 38, is Graham Bird. He is the leader of the Merrell Adventure Addicts Andventure racing team.
The Merrell Adventure Addicts website describes his achievements as follows: “Graham has been involved in sport since 1986, when he starting canoeing. Graham has been one of South Africa’s top canoeists since the early nineties, winning 28 South African titles and being selected for 14 national teams (7 as captain). Over this period, Graham has also had numerous top five finishes at World Canoeing Championship and World Cup events all over the world. He has also won the majority of the major canoe races held in South Africa. Graham now focuses his energies on competing in adventure racing, trail running, mountain biking, canoeing and multisport events around the country, regularly finishing in the top 5% of these races. Graham brings a strong leadership quality to the team, having served on both the Canoeing South Africa and Gauteng Canoe Union committees. He has also been a regular organiser of events and managed teams competing at the World Championships.”
Like Martin Dreyer, Graham makes life “interesting” for the veteran racers such as Glenn, because while he is perhaps yet to take on the RASA seriously, his exploits in other sporting events prove his worth as a top endurance sportsman, talents which can easily be transferred. Last year, he accompanied Merrell team member Tatum Prins as she broke the women’s record, and recorded a 19 days, 7 hours and 55 minutes finish in the process. But again like Martin Dreyer who did his 1st Freedom Challenge last year, one senses that Graham is capable of far better.